Patience and Practice: Kyle Lux infuses music with emotion and vulnerability

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Lux / Layton Davis)

It may seem to the world that with his new EP “No Roof Access,” Kyle Lux is just getting started. However, Lux’s talent has already been recognized by many. 

The artist (née Kyle Tolbert) has been featured on several Spotify playlists, including Fresh Finds, Alternative R&B, Libra and Lorem. 

Lux’s musical career began in his church and school choir. His stage name is a nod to this foundation and a reminder of his roots. 

“Around the time when I was deciding what my artist name would be … and how it’s just used like glorious light and talking about God, and I thought it would be fitting to tie it into my name since I really started in music with church,” said Lux, a sophomore majoring in popular music. “Even though I’m not Catholic, it’s still just talking about the same God, so I thought it’d be fitting to have that in my name as just a reminder of where I came from.” 

For his junior and senior years of high school, Lux left his public high school to attend the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities, where he concentrated in music. For the first time, he was surrounded by fellow artists and was given the confidence to really consider a career in music. 

“Having that community of artists, being in a place where you’re encouraged to do what you love — that was invaluable to me,” Lux said. “And that kind of gave me confidence to do my own music and really just was a big foundation for me … It wasn’t really encouraged before I went there.”

It was there that he met his best friend, New York University sophomore Layton Davis, who has supported Lux’s career since the beginning. Davis made the cover art for Lux’s first six singles. By working with him, Davis noticed that Lux was extremely patient when it came to his music. 

“He’s a bit of a perfectionist, which is really annoying to work with … But he’s only that way because he has a very specific vision, and he knows exactly what he wants things to look like and what will look best,” Davis said. “He’s pretty spontaneous and super high-energy, but he’s very patient with his work.”

Davis was there when Lux received an email from his soon-to-be manager, Justin Lehmann of Mischief Management. Lux, having found Lehmann’s contact information from his client Aminé’s Instagram bio, decided to send him an email with a link to a song he had just released. 

When Lehmann first heard the song, he was struck by Lux’s raw voice. Lehmann said the song got stuck in his head. He spoke to Lux the same day he received the email and has been his manager ever since. In those three years, Lehmann has watched Lux grow as an artist.

“He’s improved at his craft in the sense that the songs he’s making now are leagues abound of where he’s started,” Lehmann said. “He also has a much better understanding of himself in the sense of the art, the persona and [the] story that he wants to put forward about his art but also about himself.”

Lux did not feel a true connection to the music he was making prior to this year because he was making it for a specific audience. However, this changed after the release of his first single, “Rollin’ Stone,” earlier this year. Lux began making music for himself rather than an audience. Because of this, he began to think of himself as an artist.

“I felt completely grounded in what I was doing,” Lux said. “I was doing what I wanted to do and putting that out in the world and being OK with that.”

His debut EP “No Roof Access” was released Nov. 15. Three years in the making, the EP represents the culmination of his artistic development thus far. The songs on the album draw inspiration from artists such as Solange, James Blake, Gabriel Garzon-Montano and Frank Ocean. 

Kyle Lux’s EP “No Roof Access,” which was released Nov. 15, pays homage to the artist’s musical journey. (Photo taken by/designed by Eddie Mandell)

“I look back a lot, and so I wanted this EP to be something I looked back and there wouldn’t be that much I wanted to change about it,” Lux said. “People are just gonna have that impression [of the music] for the rest of their lives, so I just wanted it to be the best it could be.”

Lehmann believes that Lux’s patience while making the EP is what sets him apart from other artists. 

“The fact that we’ve been working together as long as we have and are only putting out his first project now is a testament to the fact that he’s patient, which a lot of artists might not be,” Lehmann said. “It’s not the easiest thing to say ‘I’m just gonna really, really take my time on this, I don’t need to be putting out music immediately’ … I think it’s the mark of an artist that really cares a lot about their craft and about making sure that it’s quality over quantity.” 

This EP shows a vulnerable side of Lux, and the feeling of people knowing details about his life was slightly odd to him, he said. However, he believes that the best music comes out of this vulnerability and hopes that listeners will be inspired to overcome feelings that hold them back.

Despite the recent release, Lux is already looking toward the future, and he plans to put out an album. However, he is in no rush to do so, thanks to the stability that USC provides. 

“Being able to be at school is definitely comforting, knowing that I’m here for two more years, so it’s like there’s no rush for me to do anything,” Lux said. “I have time to really just sit back and take my time with this album and I’m definitely gonna take that time.”